Just today I came across a link to a wonderful video showing yet another use dogs have for the fifth digit on their front legs, also known as dew claws. It shows working Retrievers using them to climb out of frozen ponds.
We already witness how useful they are for grabbing earth while herding and holding a good bone while gnawing on it. In winter they use them slightly more for traction on crusty snow and icy paths.
The argument goes that these digits are useless and so prone to injury that they should be removed “just in case”. It should be no surprise that we take a more natural, non-invasive approach! In our experience, we’ve seen more injury to the other toes with resultant limping and down-time. Yet, one certainly wouldn’t remove those! Injuries to a dew claw have healed readily and rarely interfere with activity.
While we do not disparage other breeders for removing them, we choose to leave them on our puppies for their usefulness and as part of their natural beauty, the way they were created.